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Israel intensifies its offensive in Gaza despite ongoing ceasefire efforts

Palestinian children wounded in the Israeli bombardment on a residential building in Bureij refugee camp
Palestinian children wounded in the Israeli bombardment on a residential building in Bureij refugee camp Copyright Saher Alghorra/Copyright 2024 The AP. All rights reserved.
Copyright Saher Alghorra/Copyright 2024 The AP. All rights reserved.
By Euronews with AP
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Doctors Without Borders says at least 70 bodies and 300 wounded people, mostly women and children, have been brought to a hospital in central Gaza since Tuesday.

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The Israeli military said it has started "operational activity” in two areas of central Gaza on Wednesday in a possible broadening of its offensive against Hamas.

It said its forces were operating “both above and below ground” in eastern parts of Deir al-Balah and Bureij, a long-established Palestinian refugee camp.

The operation began with airstrikes on what is described as “militant infrastructure”, after which troops began a “targeted daylight operation” in both areas.

Residents said Israel sent tanks into Bureij while planes and tanks pounded the nearby settlements of Al-Maghazi and Al-Nuseirat, as well as Deir Al-Balah city.

Doctors Without Borders says at least 70 bodies and 300 wounded people, mostly women and children, have been brought to a hospital in central Gaza since Tuesday.

The international charity said in a post on X that the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital in Deir al-Balah is struggling to treat “a huge influx of patients, many of them arriving with severe burns, shrapnel wounds, fractures, and other traumatic injuries.”

Karin Huster, a medical adviser with the organisation, said the situation was overwhelming.

“The odour of blood in the hospital’s emergency room this morning was unbearable. There are people lying everywhere, on the floor, outside,” she said.

Ceasefire negotiations continue, anti-Arab march in Jerusalem

Meanwhile, it is being reported that US and Qatari mediators have met in Doha in a bid to finalise a ceasefire deal between Hamas and Israel.

Last week, US President Joe Biden announced a three-phase ceasefire plan, which he said was an Israeli proposal.

However, Israeli leaders have since appeared to distance themselves from the proposal and vowed to keep fighting Hamas until the group is destroyed.

On Monday, the US circulated a draft resolution to the United Nations Security Council urging it to back the plan.

Meanwhile, in Israel, thousands of people on Wednesday took part in a nationalist march through a Palestinian area of Jerusalem chanted “death to Arabs”, stoking already surging tensions as the war in Gaza rages on.

The annual “Jerusalem Day” march marks Israel’s 1967 capture of east Jerusalem, including the Old City and its holy sites sacred to Jews, Christians, and Muslims.

In the past, the march has helped fuel violence, including helping to set off an 11-day war with Hamas three years ago.

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Israel considers all of Jerusalem to be its capital, but its annexation of East Jerusalem is not internationally recognised.

The Palestinians, who seek east Jerusalem as the capital of a future state, see the march as a provocation.

UN warns of dire humanitarian situation

United Nations agencies on Wednesday warned that over 1 million Palestinians in Gaza could experience the highest level of life-threatening starvation by the middle of next month if hostilities continue.

In a joint report, the World Food Programme and the Food and Agriculture Organization said hunger is worsening because of heavy restrictions on humanitarian access and the collapse of the local food system because of the nearly eight-month war.

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Netanyahu visits northern Israel, shootout at US embassy in Beirut

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel will restore security in the north “one way or another” during a tour of the border with Lebanon.

His visit on Wednesday came a day after large brush fires ignited by Hezbollah rocket attacks burned in a number of locations.

At a meeting with soldiers and firefighters, Netanyahu said Israel is “prepared for very strong action in the north.”

Lebanon’s Hezbollah militant group began launching rockets at Israel a day after the war in Gaza broke out with Hamas’ 7 October attack on southern Israel.

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Since then, Israel and Hezbollah have been trading fire daily in violence that has pushed the region to the brink of a wider war.

A gunman was shot and captured by Lebanese soldiers after a shootout outside the US Embassy in Beirut on Wednesday morning, the military said.

The attack took place as tensions in Lebanon continued to simmer with months of fighting between Hezbollah militants and Israeli troops, displacing thousands along the border.

The Lebanese military said in a statement that soldiers shot an assailant, who they only described as a Syrian national. The gunman was wounded and taken to a hospital.

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